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Title: Abortion and agency in recent Southern African fiction
Author: Stobie, Caitlin Erinna
ISNI:       0000 0004 8501 0290
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis argues for the formation of reproductive agency in creative abortion narratives, exploring the representation of gestating bodies and foetal forms in fiction by southern African writers Wilma Stockenström, Zoë Wicomb, Yvonne Vera, and Bessie Head. Their aesthetic treatments of reproductive ethics are seen primarily through the lens of new materialist theory, which challenges conventional, individual-based notions of human rights and power by asserting that all matter holds agency. This project contends, however, that the texts at its centre anticipate and exceed supposedly recent or renewed feminist interests in materiality - not only by exploring contemporary discourse and metaphors surrounding abortion as either a confirmation of a woman's 'right to choose' or an ethically unwarranted termination of human life, but further by questioning teleological understandings of development, growth, and time. Considering queer ecocritical perspectives in a counterbalanced triangulation between new materialism and postcolonial studies, it is argued that the primary texts are critical of the traditionally linear model of chronology and its role in normalising both literal gestation and the metaphorical reproduction of the post/colonial nation. Recent southern African fiction illustrates that abortion is neither tragic nor the termination of a life or story. Rather, terminations of pregnancy in these fictional materials challenge repronormative discourse and present a range of creative alternatives to tropes such as those of 'the Mother Country', 'Mother Africa', or 'the birth of a nation'. This thesis counterposes contemporary postcolonialism and materialist feminism, seeking to further the intersections between two fields with visionary potential while also attending to aesthetic and formal explorations of agencies and desires as expressed by the texts. Considering writings from South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana, it reads locally situated abortion narratives for the contemporary postcolonial feminist theories they embody, melding traditional beliefs with materialist views to transform southern African futures.
Supervisor: Huggan, Graham Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available